No. 4 Gauchos Deliver Historic Upset of No. 1 USC, Tie Program Record With Win Over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps

No. 4 UCSB defeated No. 1 USC for the first time since 1990 on the second day of the Inland Empire Classic. (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
No. 4 UCSB defeated No. 1 USC for the first time since 1990 on the second day of the Inland Empire Classic. (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

LA VERNE, Calif. - The No. 4 UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team recorded two historic wins at Las Flores Park on Sunday by defeating No. 1 USC for the first time since 1990 and upending Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 15-4 to tie the mark for the best start to a season in program history.

UCSB 13, No. 1 USC 9

UCSB (9-0) was in control early, taking a 4-1 lead inside the first five minutes of the first quarter thanks to two goals from junior attacker Cole Brosnan and one each from sophomore attacker Sam Nangle and senior attacker Jacob Halle.

On the other side of the three-minute mark, USC's (2-1) Hannes Daube kickstarted a 3-1 run that saw the first period end with a slender 5-4 Gaucho lead.

Both teams matched each other in the second quarter, scoring a pair of goals apiece as the Gauchos took their one-goal advantage into the halftime break.

It wasn't until the third quarter that Santa Barbara created some separation between itself and USC, as dependable senior utility Ivan Gvozdanovic scored just 26 seconds in. Brosnan scored at the three-minute mark and junior defender Mason McQuet put away a power play opportunity.

USC pulled one back through Sam Slobodien with 2:34 left, but Brosnan immediately returned the favor with his fifth goal of the affair just over a minute later to make the score 11-7.

Junior attacker Leo Yuno, who also had two assists in the match, scored another power play goal for UCSB for the first score of the fourth quarter, extending the lead to 12-7.

USC's Jake Ehrhardt and Matt Maier struck twice within a minute later on in the quarter, but the Gauchos' defending and McQuet's power play goal with six seconds left shut the door on a Trojan comeback as the Gauchos took down the top-ranked team in the country for an historic win.

Sophomore goalkeeper Danny Roland stayed in form in the win, making 10 saves with one assist and three steals.

"We came out really strong, kind of like how we played against Cal. Everyone was up for it. Last time we played them they throttled us, so we spent a lot of time watching video to prepare for this game. The guys were pumped up. After 30 seconds, we could tell the team was on fire. We had a tough run at the beginning with the first six exclusions called against us, but every time we shut them down, got natural goals, and were able to get the win," said head coach Wolf Wigo after the win.

"Ivan [Gvozdanovic] had a great weekend. He played the whole game against USC against one of their best players, a starter for his national team, and shut him down. Something else that might not show up in the box score is the job that Jacob Halle and Mason McQuet did of shutting down USC's centers," continued Wigo.

UCSB 15, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 4

A 6-0 UCSB lead after the first quarter grew into a 10-0 advantage at the half and the Gauchos never looked back as they achieved a milestone victory over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

Nangle was the only Gaucho with multiple goals, scoring four, as 11 others had a goal each.

Gvozdanovic recorded three assists and freshman attacker Logan Sutter had two of his own in UCSB's final match of the tournament.

Junior goalkeeper Tiago Bonchristiano made 11 saves in the win, playing all 32 minutes.

With the win, the Gauchos match the program-record 9-0 start to the season set in 1988 and will have a chance to break it this week at home on Thursday afternoon against Ottawa University of Arizona.

"The team has a lot of confidence. We've won two tournaments in a row, and we've never had two wins over top-four teams this early in the season. No one else in the country has wins over top-four ranked teams right now. We didn't squeak wins out either, we controlled both games throughout," Wigo added.

"Anything's possible this season. This is the first season I've ever coached that it's been like this. Other seasons we've racked up a lot of wins early, but a lot of them have come against lower-ranked opponents. No one's been within three goals of us in the games we've played against top-six ranked teams. Again, confidence is really high right now. This is a virtuous cycle that will push these guys to do even better all season long."

The Gauchos' match against Ottawa begins at 12 p.m. on Thursday, and UCSB will also play a second match against Pepperdine at 5 p.m.

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